IBM software acts as human memory backup

IBM working on software that just may help you better recollect all the forgotten pieces of your life.

Ever try to remember who you bumped into at the store a few days back? Or exactly what the company president said at the morning meeting?

Well, you're not alone. And IBM researchers are working on software that just may help you better recollect all the forgotten pieces of your life.

This week, the company unveiled software that uses images, sounds, and text recorded on everyday mobile devices to help people recall names, faces, conversations and events. Dubbed Pensieve, the software organizes bits of collected information, stores them and then helps the user extract them later on.

"Today, we're flooded with information. It's an information overload and we're not capable of handling it," said Eran Belinsky, an IBM project leader. "This would relieve us from the anxiousness or need to try to remember everything. And there's the issue of trouble with recollection. [It's like] your index is broken. You know you know something but you can't get there. This could help people having trouble with their memory reconstruct their memories."

IBM's project is akin to one that Gordon Bell and other scientists at Microsoft Research have been working on for the past nine years. Bell, a longtime veteran of the IT industry and now principal researcher at Microsoft's research arm, is developing a way for people to remember different aspects of their lives.

Bell's project, called MyLifeBits, has him supplementing his own memory by collecting as much information as he can about his life. He's trying to store a lifetime on his Dell laptop. Collecting telephone conversations, music, lectures, books he's written and read and photographs he's incessantly taken, Bell is amassing a great database of his life.

Belinsky said IBM, while not part of the MyLifeBits project, are developing software that could help organize all of that information.

"After you take the pictures, you place them in the system," explained Belinsky. 'You stockpile the images in a server. In addition to taking the picture, you collect the contextual information, like embedding GPS information into the picture, along with the time. When the picture is uploaded, the software looks at your calendar to see what you were doing at that time. Then it can cluster images into groups based on time, location and calendar. And it will label the clusters."

Belinsky said he can't put a timeframe on when the software might be ready but did say that "hundreds" of IBM employees are testing it now.

"In Harry Potter, wizards can put their thoughts in the [Pensieve] and it will hold onto the memories," he added. "Later, the thoughts can be [retrieved] and shown to other people. We are trying, in a sense, to make magic a reality. Of course, we don't have magic, so we're trying to use today's magic wand, which is the mobile phone equipped with a digital camera and GPS. People will capture their memories or experience cues in the form of a picture. When they later see the picture, it will help them recollect the experience."

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?